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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Tea Party Favorite Christine O'Donnell Under Investigation; Border Fence Delayed; Extreme Living
Aired December 30, 2010 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again. I'm Randi Kaye, sitting in for Anderson Cooper.
Here's now -- he's now in the final countdown to his countdown to New Year's tomorrow night with Kathy Griffin right here on CNN.
Tonight, though, did Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell use campaign cash for personal expenses? The feds want to know if she broke the law. Today, she spoke out, but do her answers and her accounting add up? We're keeping her honest.
Also tonight, remember that virtual fence that was supposed to protect our border? Well, billions of dollars later, it is barely a shadow of what it's supposed to be. It's over budget, and now things are even worse. We're "Keeping Them Honest" there, too.
Later, it's just a kayak and a stream, right? Well, yes, if by stream, you mean raging waterfalls and, by kayaking, you mean "Extreme Living." 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta introduces you to a guy who loves to take the fall.
But we begin tonight with Christine O'Donnell under federal criminal investigation, accused of misusing campaign money. Now she is firing back, but do her statements square with the facts? Do they even make sense? We're "Keeping Them Honest." You will hear what she's saying and you can decide for yourself.
The Republican and Tea Party candidate who lost the Senate race in Delaware last month made the rounds on the network news programs this morning. That in itself is notable. During the fall campaign, O'Donnell refused to speak to the national media, except for FOX News.
But she made herself available today to talk about the investigation launched by the Justice Department and the FBI. O'Donnell dismissed it as politically motivated and pointed fingers at a variety of groups that she's long said are against her, among them, the Delaware political establishment, which she said includes Republicans, as well as Democrats, also, disgruntled former employees, liberal groups, even Vice President Joe Biden, who was a longtime Delaware senator.
But our job tonight is get beyond the finger-pointing and focus instead on the facts, to lay out the allegations, let you hear her answers, provide any possible explanations, and see how it all comes together, or not.
Remember, Ms. O'Donnell raised millions for her campaign. She's only rarely held a paying job. Yet she's certainly spending money from somewhere. The main allegations center on the rent she pays on a town house that she says is both her campaign headquarters and her personal residence.
Here's what she said today on "AMERICAN MORNING."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AMERICAN MORNING")
CHRISTINE O'DONNELL (R), FORMER DELAWARE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Now, this whole thing about rent, we rent a townhouse that we use for the campaign headquarters.
And because of things like eggs being thrown at my home and -- and my home being broken into and vandalized, I use that townhome as my legal residency, and I pay the campaign rent in order to do that. I give the campaign money to have that as my legal residency, not the other way around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: OK. Her explanation sounds confusing.
She's talking in the present tense. She said, "I pay the campaign rent."
Well, if that's true, she might right now, right this minute, might be in compliance with a Federal Election Commission rule which states, "The campaign may not pay for mortgage, rent or utilities for the personal residence of the candidate or the candidate's family, even if part of the residence is being used by the campaign."
So, if she really is paying now, she's OK. But she wasn't specific about the time frame, which only adds to the mystery. Remember, Christine O'Donnell hasn't exactly been transparent about her campaign spending, certainly not about her rent.
Case in point, our Gary Tuchman dug up some other information when he was reporting this story back in September. Christine O'Donnell ran against Joe Biden in 2008, and lost that election.
Gary found that, in March of 2009, when O'Donnell was between campaigns, she wrote this $750 check to the landlord of the house she was renting using campaign funds and marked the check fund-raising expense, expense reimbursement. She wrote another $750 check to the landlord in April 2009 as well.
And when Gary Tuchman tried to ask O'Donnell about the rental discrepancies, this is what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ms. O'Donnell, I'm going to ask you that one question you promised you would answer. O'DONNELL: I did answer it.
TUCHMAN: No, about the rentals last year.
TUCHMAN: Why were you paying rent money with campaign money?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Sorry, tonight, not happening.
TUCHMAN: Well, that was the one question I had.
O'DONNELL: I answered it.
TUCHMAN: No, you didn't answer it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: That was in September. During her Senate run, Christine O'Donnell consistently said that she did not personally misuse campaign funds, and she said it again this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AMERICAN MORNING")
O'DONNELL: I am very confident that there have been no impermissible use of campaign funds. And I would like the opportunity to set the record straight, at least in the court of public opinion, because, as you see, if I remained silent and did not set the record straight, you know, months from now, we would be cleared.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Again, FEC rules are clear, crystal-clear. Candidates cannot use campaign funds for personal expenses.
However, an FEC spokesperson did tell us they will consider approving -- quote -- "unusual rental arrangements." But O'Donnell has never mentioned getting any such approval.
In September, Gary Tuchman spoke to David Keegan, a former financial adviser who worked for the campaign for two months and who said had he to quit because he didn't like what he saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID KEEGAN, FORMER O'DONNELL FINANCIAL AIDE: She would withdraw money for mileage. She doesn't own a car, didn't own a car at the time. And you can only do one or the other, take the mileage expense or gas. She was doing both.
TUCHMAN: So, this is after -- she's not even running for anything anymore.
KEEGAN: No. She should have been paying anything left over. And anything that came back in should have been paying off debt. None of that... (CROSSTALK)
TUCHMAN: But she was using it to go bowling?
TUCHMAN: As a campaign expense?
KEEGAN: Yes, and paying...
TUCHMAN: But there was no campaign.
KEEGAN: And paying rent.
TUCHMAN: Paying her rent with it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Now, this morning, Christine O'Donnell dismissed Keegan with a personal attack. She described him as a volunteer who was let go from her campaign because in her words he gave so many people on the campaign the creeps.
And she had this to say about his claims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AMERICAN MORNING")
O'DONNELL: Well, the fact that these are false accusations is what keeps me out of trouble. And we have got a great attorney who is setting the record straight with us.
But, first, let's look at this. Dave Keegan was a volunteer in 2008. So, how would he know about anything in 2009?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: In fact, David Keegan was a paid employee in 2008. And as for knowing details about 2009 expenses, well, all of that is public record. So, he, like any of us, could find that information.
So, the big question is, did Christine O'Donnell break rules here? Did she break the law even?
We're joined now by Melanie Sloan, currently executive director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Early next year, she will be leaving that post to go into private legal practice with Democratic strategist Lanny Davis. And, also, we're joined by Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University.
Good to see you both.
Jonathan -- Jonathan, let's start with you. Let's get right to Christine O'Donnell's explanations. Does any of what she's saying here ring at all true to you in a legal sense? JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL ATTORNEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, I think much of what she says is very hard to square with the actual language of these rules.
I mean, the -- the rules actually do prohibit these types of rent arrangements. You have to go out and get approval for special arrangements, but they're designed to -- to discourage this type of thing.
She's essentially arguing that she's a sort of a permanent candidate, that she can use campaign funds continually, when you have a system of rules that are designed to create clear lines, to separate out personal expenses, but also to guarantee transparency. She seems to be in violation of both of those principles.
Not only did she not appear to file sufficient documents to support these expenses, but it's hard for me to see how they square with the federal rules. Some of them do seem, at least from what we know right now, to be personal in nature.
KAYE: So, if you were her lawyer, would you advise her to stop talking right about now?
TURLEY: Well, that's the irony, isn't it? I mean, when she was campaigning, she wasn't speaking to the national media, which was probably a mistake, and now that she's not a candidate, she is, and that's probably a mistake as well.
I think most attorneys would say, for the love of God, get off the television. It is true that very few candidates go to jail for these types of violations, as opposed to fines, but, you know, that doesn't mean you don't go to jail for other crimes, such as making false statements to federal investigators. Being this far out in front on an issue of this kind, I think is very unwise.
And, Melanie, O'Donnell said plenty to -- quote -- "set the record straight" on television this morning, but she also had strong words for you. Here's just some of what she said, and we will get your reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AMERICAN MORNING")
O'DONNELL: CREW is a left-wing, George -- George Soros-funded group who investigates only conservative candidates.
And I also want to set the record straight that Melanie Sloan, the woman leading this CREW complaint, is a former Biden staffer who has a very left-wing resume, to the left of most, you know, left-wing people. So, again, take this for what it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Now, yesterday, Melanie, she said that you were a senior Biden staffer just before you joined CREW and filed this complaint against her.
How do you respond to that?
MELANIE SLOAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON: Well, first, I worked for Senator Biden on the Senate Judiciary Committee back in 1993. So that's about 17 years ago, shortly after I got out of law school. By no one's definition would I have been a senior staffer in any way.
Further, it's impossible to imagine that the vice president of the United States has the time or the inclination to spend time worrying about a failed Senate candidate with a very tenuous relationship with the truth.
And, further, Christine O'Donnell's allegations were merely an effort for her to move the conversation away from the fact that she stole money from her campaign, and she doesn't want to talk about that. She doesn't want to talk about the fact that she's now going to be held accountable for stealing. The real question isn't whether she stole. It's, how much money did she steal?
KAYE: So, you don't buy any of her reasoning, any of her explanations?
SLOAN: No, her explanations are ridiculous.
And we have had -- there are two different Republican staffers, not just David Keegan, but another staffer, who actually made recorded phone calls before the primary talking about how Ms. O'Donnell used the campaign account as her personal piggy bank, and she didn't have a campaign treasurer at the time.
There were no other kinds of controls on the campaign account. And you have to remember that Ms. O'Donnell had no income.
KAYE: Is that the staffer, though, that she -- is that the staffer, though, that she called incompetent and had let go?
SLOAN: That's -- well, there were two different staffers.
SLOAN: There are certainly questions of competence on the campaign, but...
SLOAN: ... I don't think they're actually these staffers. I think it's Ms. O'Donnell.
But -- so there are two different staffers who have made the same allegations. And there were not -- there was no campaign treasurer, as the law requires. And Ms. O'Donnell, who had no income, was free to use the account, take her bank card, her Wachovia account card, and use it as her piggy bank, which apparently she did when she went -- used the money to go bowling and for meals, and in fact paid rent to a guy named Brent Vasher, who was David Keegan, a former staffer's nephew. And apparently Mr. Vasher told David Keegan that she was paying him rent.
KAYE: Right. I do just want to point out these are allegations. She hasn't been indicted yet.
But, Jonathan, as we saw there, one of the central elements of O'Donnell's defense so far seems to be that she's the victim of a political witch-hunt. You're a criminal expert. Could those types of arguments play well in court, if this did wind up going that far?
First of all, a court wouldn't allow it. It would be viewed as a type of jury nullification argument. She can argue selective prosecution. That tends to be hard to make. Particularly in this case, I don't see the grounds for it. It does occur on some occasions, but I don't see it on this occasion.
She's got to be very, very careful. While these campaign laws are rarely enforced with jail time, there are separate provisions about making false statements, and there's also separate provisions in terms of conversion of money.
And we have seen some very powerful politicians, like Dan Rostenkowski go to jail -- and I'm sure you recall this -- in terms of the stamp controversy in Congress. This was really penny-ante stuff that brought down one of the most powerful beings in Washington, D.C.
So, these things can mount. And that's one of the reasons attorneys tend to keep their -- their people out of the fray. Having her going this far out, and dealing with specific allegations, when she is the alleged beneficiary of the conversion, is a very reckless move, in my view.
KAYE: And, Melanie, just very, very quickly here, I want to ask you about some of these very small expenses. Some of them were -- were -- there was money spent at a gas station, $28 near her hometown. Why, if these are so small, should any of these matter?
SLOAN: Because the law is clear. And we expect everybody to follow the same laws.
Candidates cannot use campaign accounts like their personal piggy banks to -- to cover their living expenses. They're only for legitimate campaign expenses. Christine O'Donnell was not spending the money as the law requires. And the law should apply to everyone evenly. There's no Christine O'Donnell exception to the campaign finance laws.
KAYE: All right, Melanie, Jonathan, thank you both very much.
TURLEY: Thank you.
KAYE: Let us know what you think about this. Join the live chat right now under way at AC360.com.
Up next: the border fence that's under-built and over budget. Just today, taxpayers got another dose of bad news. We're "Keeping Them Honest."
Later: a preview of tomorrow's big New Year's Eve show with Anderson and Kathy Griffin on her very best behavior.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I remember, last year, the threat was that, if you crossed the line, the network wasn't going to pay you. Is this the same kind of deal this year you have?
KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: This year, it is actually worse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: "Keeping Them Honest" tonight: With nearly $1 billion taxpayer dollars down the drain, the Department of Homeland Security has extended its contract for that virtual fence along the U.S. border with Mexico, a fence that is virtually nonexistent.
DHS sources today confirming that defense giant Boeing has received a 30-day extension, its second in recent weeks, this time through January 18. It comes despite ongoing technical problems, cost overruns, and delay after delay. It is a story we first brought you back in November, shortly after Boeing received its first 30-day extension.
Anderson was live on the border with Mexico and filed this report.
COOPER: Tonight, what happens when a government agency and one of the biggest corporations in the world team up to build a virtual fence. Well, what happens is you get a lot of promises, a lot of bills and, in this case, not a whole lot of fence.
It was supposed to be the big fix in border security: a virtual fence, a high-tech system that would all but stop illegal immigration through surveillance, ground sensors, radar, the works. It was supposed to be in place in working order by now. The project started under President Bush back in 2006.
But four years, $850 million of taxpayer money later, the virtual fence is a virtual disaster, a huge waste of time and money, tied up in bureaucracy and a bloated contract between the Department of Homeland Security and Boeing. They both, apparently, bungled the project, but tonight we're "Keeping Them Honest."
Let's take a look at the plan. Boeing got the contract to build this virtual fence back in September of 2006. Now, according to a report by the GAO, the Government Accountability Office, just three months later the Department of Homeland Security said by the end of 2009 the entire northern and southern western borders of the U.S., a total of 6,000 miles, would be covered by the fence.
Well, late in 2008 that projection was scaled back, forgetting about the northern border for a while, and the new goal was to have just 656 miles of the southern border completed by mid-2011.
Well, here's what has actually been accomplished to date: a handful of cameras in the Great Lakes area in two small sections totaling 53 miles. Fifty-three miles of virtual fence in Arizona and even that is said to be not working all that well. One problem, the sensors have been known apparently to have been thrown off by things like tumbleweeds.
Now, as we said, President Bush started the program back in 2006 but the reported 90 percent of illegal immigrants who decide to cross the border actually eventually succeeding, building a better border security system has long been and still is a political brass ring. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JULY 1993)
BILL CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must not, and we will not surrender our borders to those who wish to exploit our history of compassion and justice. We will make it tougher for illegal aliens to get into our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JUNE 2006)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to create a virtual fence that employs motion detectors and infrared cameras and unmanned aerial vehicles to detect and prevent illegal crossings. What I'm telling is that we're going to have a border that is smart and secure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SEPTEMBER 2006)
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: What we're looking to build is a virtual fence, a 21st century virtual fence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, MAY 2008)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got to have stronger border surveillance and security. That is probably going to be more of a combination of virtual borders, virtual patrols.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, that was then-candidate Obama on the campaign trail. So why has the virtual fence turned into virtual unreality? Too many promises from Boeing, not enough oversight from the DHS. This is from a GAO report on the virtual fence, which homeland security calls the Security Border Initiative Network, or SBInet.
Quote: "DHS has not effectively managed and overseen its SBInet prime contractor" -- that would be Boeing -- "thus resulting in costly reworking, contributing to SBInet's well-chronicled history of not delivering promised capabilities and benefits on time and within budget."
So what is Boeing saying after all these years and all the money? Believe it or not, in their official statement, they stand by their work. In part their statement reads, "Boeing stands behind its work on the SBInet system as a reliable, effective border-security tool.
So what now? That's the question. Nearly $1 billion of your money into this thing. The DHS extended Boeing's contract until December 18 and had this to say about the future of the program -- quote -- "DHS is currently reviewing the independent, quantitative, science-based reassessment of the SBInet program. A way forward on the future of SBInet is expected shortly and will be fully briefed to Congress when ready."
Fred Burton is the V.P. of counterterrorism and corporate security for STRATFOR, a global intelligence company. He's also the author of the best-selling "Ghosts: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent."
He joins us live from Austin tonight.
And joining us live from Washington, California Congresswoman Democrat Loretta Sanchez. She's on the subcommittee on border security and, as former chair of that committee, has held countless hearings on this subject.
Welcome. Congresswoman Sanchez, you say that Customs and Border Patrol were not even consulted before work on this virtual fence began. How is it possible that people on the ground with the most experience on the border were never asked what they needed to make this happen?
REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ (D), CALIFORNIA: Absolutely, Anderson. The first contract that was let was what we called Project 28. The first 28 miles. It was supposed to be an operational, sort of the pilot project to test the different sensors and the cameras and everything.
Well, one of the pieces of the actual contract was that they could not go and talk to the Border Patrol to get their help. And actually, it's the Border Patrol that is using this, because even though you can put up a virtual fence, if it did work, you still need Border Patrol people to run it, to see it, to see what's coming across, to intercept people that you see on this virtual fence video game, if you will, and they weren't even allowed to discuss and weren't even asked about what they needed.
COOPER: That's so -- I mean, it makes no sense whatsoever. Fred, beyond the missteps of the program, you believe even if the technology worked like it's supposed to, you say this still wouldn't secure our border.
FRED BURTON, AUTHOR, "GHOSTS: CONFESSIONS OF A COUNTERTERRORISM AGENT": No, it would not, Anderson. What we really need are more boots on the ground. There are not adequate resources being dispatched by either the U.S. Border Patrol or the National Guard to secure the border.
And without having the ability to respond to any kind of intrusion that would be observed under any kind of surveillance technology, you're going to have an intelligence failure and that person is going to get into the United States.
COOPER: Congresswoman Sanchez, I mean, is this thing -- are they still throwing money at this thing? Are they still -- this thing still continues to be funded, right?
SANCHEZ: To my knowledge they are. In fact, in I think it was 2008 I had nine hearings with respect just to this Project 28. And it's -- and then when that didn't work, they amplified that. They went and reworked that; they added more. It's still not a working system.
And here's some important things. The Border Patrol and others cannot tell us if -- if we even got something like that to work, if it would actually cut down on the boots on the ground or the Border Patrol that we need, or whether it increases the number we need or whether it decreases it because we have this technology.
COOPER: Fred, I mean, that is obviously a nightmare scenario, terrorists sneaking across the southern border and carrying out some sort of an attack. It hasn't happened. Fred, do you think it's just a matter of time?
BURTON: Well, I think it's very feasible that it could happen. And I know, for example, in Texas there has been terrorists captured, Hezbollah, Hamas, even IRA. So in essence we already have that proof- of-concept model.
But at the end of the day, what is really needed are additional resources for the state and local cops doing the job, the Texas Rangers, Department of Public Safety, for example, in Texas. But we also need Washington to dispatch the proper number of Border Patrol agents or National Guard to adequately secure the border.
COOPER: Congresswoman Sanchez, I appreciate you being on tonight.
And, Fred Burton, as well, thank you very much.
KAYE: And just ahead: If true, it's an outrage, allegations that snow removal workers in New York City were slow removal workers, a deliberate slowdown. Workers say their supervisors ordered them to take it easy, leaving the city crippled, and you won't believe why.
Also, President Obama's former auto czar hit with a $10 million fine. We will explain.
KAYE: Coming up; our special series "Extreme Living." We will meet a kayaker who likes to take a dive from nearly 200 feet up.
First, though, Gary Tuchman joins us with a 360 bulletin -- Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Randi.
New York City is still digging out from last weekend's blizzard, amid charges sanitation workers purposely delayed the cleanup.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg saying he will investigate and -- quote -- "It would be an outrage if it took place." A New York City councilman says a number of sanitation workers told him their supervisors ordered a slowdown in retaliation for budget cuts. The Sanitation Department says wind conditions hampered their efforts.
Steven Rattner, President Obama's former auto czar, has agreed to pay a $10 million fine in a settlement with New York's attorney general. Rattner was accused of a pay-to-play scheme involving New York's pension fund.
In France, word today that an anorexic former fashion model who posed nude in an ad campaign against anorexia has died. Isabelle Caro has been battling anorexia since she was 12 years old. Very sad.
And reward money for the return of the most recognizable shoes in movie history has grown to $250,000. Dorothy's ruby slippers in "The Wizard of Oz" were stolen five years ago from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. That's right, Minnesota, not Michigan. Grand Rapids is in both states.
Museum officials hope the bigger reward will prompt someone in the know to tip off investigators.
And, Randi, when it comes to those slippers, there's no place like home.
KAYE: Oh, yes. Actually -- Gary, I actually have been to that museum...
TUCHMAN: Have you really?
KAYE: ... having worked in Minnesota for years.
Yes. And a little-known fact, there's actually six pairs of those ruby slippers. The first pair is at the Smithsonian. And it was the third pair that was stolen, still to be recovered.
TUCHMAN: That is -- that is so interesting.
KAYE: It was her house, actually, that museum. That's where she lived.
TUCHMAN: Why were their six pairs of ruby -- did she wear all six of them in the -- in the movie?
KAYE: Some were sold off. Some were given to other celebrities. And that first pair went to the Smithsonian.
TUCHMAN: Very interesting, Randi Kaye.
KAYE: Lots of slippers.
Hey, Gary, I want to wish you good luck tomorrow night in the big New Year's run in Central Park.
And also tomorrow night, Anderson and Kathy Griffin will be back in Times Square to host CNN's New Year's Eve show.
Here's a preview and a hint of how Kathy wants Anderson to show up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I've taken two Valium for this interview. So I'm a little loopy.
KATHY GRIFFIN, COMEDIAN: That's my dream come true. Can you take four on New Year's?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: And if celebrating New Year's Eve with Anderson and Kathy isn't extreme enough for you, then meet Tyler Bradt, who is setting records all over the world in his kayak. His story is next.
KAYE: Tomorrow night, a 360 tradition, New Year's Eve with Anderson and Kathy Griffin. Never dull, never predictable, but we do have a preview for you. Here's Anderson and Kathy.
COOPER: So, Kathy, how is it possible that you were hired back for New Year's Eve? I thought you had been, you know, escorted off CNN property by security.
GRIFFIN: First of all, I'm a little confused. Are we doing AC 360 or are we doing your syndicated show now, or "60 Minutes"? I'm not even sure which show of yours we're...
COOPER: We're on 360 right now. We're on 360. I remember last year the threat was that, if you crossed the line, the network wasn't going to pay you. Is this the same kind of deal this year you have?
GRIFFIN: This year it's actually worse, so not only do I have a clause in my contract where, if I say certain words, I don't get paid, but this year they actually said they're actually going to pull me live off the air.
COOPER: Did they say that, really?
GRIFFIN: If I cross the line. Yes.
GRIFFIN: So I assume you will, then, turn into my kind of Kevin Costner in "The Bodyguard," sweep me up into your arms, and then we'll run over to, I don't know, I guess the Seacrest broadcast and break through that glass, whatever that sky box is that he's in.
COOPER: Now I know also when you do your shows, your standup, you have very demanding, what they call contract riders. Right? Do you have a contract rider for New Year's Eve?
GRIFFIN: Well, that -- I do. I have a rider, and, you know, I think that some of the needs you can meet, and if not, then you're going to be the one in violation of the contract.
So the first one is I would like to start the show, and you can join me and I think you should, with one bong filled with salvia. And I don't know if you saw the infamous Miley Cyrus tape.
COOPER: I did.
GRIFFIN: But she was having a bad trip. Well, I think we can have a good trip on it, and it's legal. I think you would know. You were smoking pot with Melissa Etheridge all year every time I turned on your show.
COOPER: What? I never -- I did an interview with Melissa Etheridge who was talking about medical use of marijuana. I think you misinterpreted.
GRIFFIN: That's not how I remember it. I remember you and Melissa Etheridge rolling around on the rug, saying, "I can fly, man. I can fly." Something like that. Maybe I had the sound down. And by the way...
COOPER: Salvia is legal, by the way. I don't know quite what it is.
GRIFFIN: That's why we're getting it. It's not in violation of my contract. I don't know yours.
COOPER: I threw out my back, and so I've taken two Valium for this interview. So I'm a little loopy. GRIFFIN: That's my dream come true. Can you take four on New Year's?
GRIFFIN: Now, first of all, should we talk about the dirt that I have on you that I have from your mother's apartment?
COOPER: Yes, you know what? A lot of people don't realize is, actually I think this happened at the end of last year's broadcast. She wanted to talk to you, so I handed the phone, and you and my mom have become very good friends.
GRIFFIN: Did you have any idea what you were starting or that it would end up with me -- that's right. Look at how nervous you are. Look at your face in the picture. What is your caption (ph)?
COOPER: That's me and you and my mom and Gloria Steinem, who you brought along to a book signing of my mom. But you've become -- you actually had -- my mom gave a dinner party for you for your birthday, right? Or just in your honor?
GRIFFIN: In my honor.
COOPER: In your honor. Which I wasn't invited to, by the way, but that's fine.
GRIFFIN: Yes, you didn't -- well, it's sort of uncomfortable. It's not that you weren't invited. It's that she had, like, an "A" and a "B" list, and you -- we were going to call you if somebody fell through.
GRIFFIN: But everybody shows up at your mom's. She's famous. But I have to say, some of my favorite moments were sneaking into your old room. And I'll be revealing some of the things I found in that room live New Year's Eve until they pull me or you just knock me off the riser yourself.
COOPER: Also, you know, also a lot of people don't realize is last year we hung out after -- after we were together in Times Square, and you got kind of cuddly. This is in your hotel room afterwards.
COOPER: You were cuddly with your Emmy.
GRIFFIN: I've shown you my soft side. I am a little more cuddly with my Emmy than I am with you. But look at you posing. You are shameless. What is it like being an older male model?
COOPER: I saw a photo of you with a producer of mine, Jack Gray, which I understand was taken in Vegas? What happened here?
GRIFFIN: Yes. Exactly. OK. So here's the deal. I have a whole other life that you don't know about. So that was me, you know, getting jiggy, and probably pregnant, looks like by that picture, if I have any legs left, which God willing I don't. But that is me with your producer Jack Gray, and we're tooting it and booting it, which the kids do.
COOPER: That was what you call it?
GRIFFIN: And that was after one of my Vegas shows. That's what the kids call it now.
Now let's -- let's talk more about the syndicated show, because I assume that I'm in the pilot, because I don't know who my baby daddy is, and I'm ready to be swabbed or have some sort of a Maury Povich- style DNA test. I assume that's going to be your first episode.
COOPER: Yes, I don't think we're going to do the DNA testing on the show, but you know, I'd love to have you on.
GRIFFIN: What about the big red glasses?
COOPER: Sally Jesse Rafael? No one's been -- non one's done it since her. I could -- you know, I have my glasses.
GRIFFIN: I was told that you were modeling the show after Sally Jesse Rafael, your idol. Oh, wow. Hold on. Can you -- wow. I need a minute.
COOPER: Yes, I know. I look like Rachel Maddow.
GRIFFIN: You look like Rachel Maddow, and here's what I love. I love that you clearly got the nerdiest glasses you could, because you think you're so gorgeous and hot that you just have to take it down a few notches for America. There's -- look, I know you. I've talked to your mom.
COOPER: These aren't nerdy glasses. Are they? I don't know what they are.
GRIFFIN: Yes. Those are shame glasses. They're shame filled. And they're for private time. They're what you call your indoor glasses. And let me tell you something, Ryan Seacrest would not be caught dead with those glasses on.
COOPER: I haven't gotten used to being able -- I haven't gotten used to actually having the glasses so I can take them off and do things like this with them. You know what people do with their glasses.
GRIFFIN: Can't you do it in a more debonair way? Yes. A debonair, professorial way? Do it -- the way that you have worked the brows, you know, when you look -- as if you're listening, which are some of my favorite moments on your show.
COOPER: Kathy, I do look forward to New Year's Eve. It's going to be fun.
GRIFFIN: It is my Christmas. I cannot wait, my friend, and know to expect the unexpected.
COOPER: Oh, God. You know what? I have actually already started to sweat.
GRIFFIN: What? Good. I've done my job.
COOPER: All right. I'll see you New Year's, Kathy.
KAYE: Anderson is sweating and we're all sweating for him. It should be a very interesting couple of hours tomorrow night. Join Anderson and Kathy Griffin for New Year's Eve live, counting you down to 2011.
Tonight, though, you'll meet a daredevil who is going to the extremes in kayaking.
He's breaking records around the world, and love him or hate him, Justin Bieber has been everywhere this year. But it's the latest Internet rumor about him that is providing a new addition to our RidicuList.
KAYE: We've been introducing you all week to people who push themselves beyond what seems humanly possible. "Extreme Living." Tonight, Tyler Bradt, a kayaker for whom boating (ph) is a badge of honor, because his aquatic exploits are life-threatening. He paddles over waterfalls and breaks records doing it. Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks with him in just a minute. First, though, take a look at Tyler Bradt in action.
TYLER BRADT, KAYAKER: Yes, I think today might be the day.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is 24- year-old Tyler Bradt.
BRADT: Maybe it's something that I really want to do enough to -- enough to throw caution to the wind and try to step up the bar just one more notch.
GUPTA: Getting ready for one of the most unbelievable stunts you'll ever see.
Wait. You've got to see that again. That's no stunt double. That's Bradt running his kayak over a 186-foot cliff in Palouse Falls in eastern Washington state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you, bud? Oh, he's out, he's out, woo! Woo!
GUPTA: Bradt, who grew up on a Montana ranch, learned to paddle as a young boy. His father taught him. He loves the rush of white water. In all, he's made more than 200 drops off cliffs higher than 70 feet.
In 2007 he started a film production company with fellow daredevil Rush Sturgis. He makes documentaries as a showcase for adventure and extreme living, with an eye toward helping the environment.
PATRICK CHAMBERS: With boating, and with the rivers around the world, you're able to put yourself in a situation that not only are you going to be the first boaters coming down this stretch of wilderness, but often times you're the first people.
GUPTA: The next big adventure? A 1,400-mile paddling trip, less than 500 miles from the North Pole.
Bradt hasn't lost his taste for waterfalls, but he says he's not going to try and break the Palouse Falls record, unless someone else breaks it first.
(on camera) It's amazingly adventurous stuff. And I can't help but think, I mean, what propels you to do this? The risk of being hurt and drowning, and dying. People's survival instincts sort of take over, yet you do this very dangerous stuff. Why?
BRADT: There is no experience like it. I started kayaking at a very young age. It's been my sole focus ever since then, and there is -- the places that you're able to go, the experiences that you're able to have, and just the sheer thrill of being out on a river and running white water is absolutely unreal. And so it's -- that's my driving force. I just love it. Every aspect about it.
GUPTA: When were you kayaking people say, "I think that's runable." I remember that from the few times I've kayaked. Now, what you thought was runable was a 189-foot waterfall, taller than Niagara Falls, for context. How was that runable? At what point did you say that was going to be OK to do?
BRADT: When -- when I was growing up kayaking, a very tall waterfall was 70, 80-feet tall. I ran one 107 feet tall. That was my biggest one, previous to Palouse. And when I looked at Palouse, it wasn't the height that I was thinking about; it was the style waterfall. I could look at it, and I could see that it was possible to run it.
And so I think that I ran it more because I thought I could. I saw it. I saw that I had it within myself to run this waterfall, to run it successfully and safely. And luckily, it went exactly as we hoped and dreamed that it would.
GUPTA: I think we're looking at some of the video. Just now, you're dropping that much. From what I understand you went 20 feet down into the water, didn't come up for 20 seconds. Do you remember what you were experiencing? Obviously, you were falling, so you were experiencing that, but how did you not, like, you know, fall out of the kayak just from the momentum and the impact?
BRADT: Right. I -- I invented a system that literally clamps me into the kayak. When breaking a record, it's necessary that you stay in the boat. If you come out of the kayak, then it doesn't count. So it was full commitment for me. I was committed on staying in my boat. I had this system that clamped my brace skirt onto the cockpit of the kayak to hold me in it.
And upon impact I was pretty dazed. Through freefall, everything was going good. I remember a very conscious positive thought go through my head, that this is going great, I'm exactly where I want to be.
GUPTA: While you're actually falling.
BRADT: Yes, while I'm falling. My boat angle is right, which is the most important thing.
GUPTA: What is that? Is that just straight down?
BRADT: Straight down. It's a lot like jumping off a bridge or a rock. You want to land feet first. You don't want to land on your belly or off to one side. You want to penetrate into the water and decelerate over as long a period of time as possible. That reduces the G-forces acting upon you, and that's what keeps you OK.
GUPTA: So instead of just stopping suddenly you're slowly going into the water.
BRADT: Exactly. You want to go as deep as possible, slow down over as long a period of time as possible. It's still a ferocious impact. The biggest impact of my life, and I was completely dazed right upon impact.
GUPTA: Was that the scariest, one of the scariest moments? Or if not, what was?
BRADT: The scariest moment is always when you're making the decision to do it. After you've made the decision to run something, you're getting in your kayak, you're getting ready to do it, you have to put that fear aside. You have to be able to focus exactly on what you're doing.
If you second guess yourself when you're doing something, if you have an "Oh, crap" moment right as you're going off the lip of this waterfall, chances are you're not going to react to what's going on right at that specific period of time.
So it's necessary to put that fear in a box, place it to the side. You know, be sure you have that fear there when you're making that decision, because that's what allows you to make the decision to run it and be safe, or be safe and walk away from it and be OK with that. So fear's an important part, but you have to push it to the side when you're running it.
GUPTA: Everything you've just said now, have there been incidents where you realized during it now, not before, not when you've made the decision, but during the fact that -- the time you're running something, that it's not going well and you got scared? BRADT: There have been a couple of periods of time when I was obviously certainly scared kayaking. But I try to keep those to a minimum.
GUPTA: When you think about sort of next things for you, what if I told you that you can't kayak anymore? That's something that can't be a part of your life. What would that mean for you?
BRADT: Well, I would treat it as I treat everything in life. I think that you can never pin something good or bad, because you don't know what outcome that's going to have on the rest of your life. I would embrace it and accept it and move on and try to find the next adventure.
GUPTA: Just hanging out with you kind of makes me feel more at peace with myself, which I like. I appreciate it.
BRADT: Well, it's a pleasure to be able to do that for you.
GUPTA: Thanks so much for being here.
BRADT: Yes, thank you.
KAYE: Up next, two sisters behind bars. They have a chance to go free, but only if one of them makes a pretty big sacrifice. We'll tell you what it is and whether it's too big a price to pay for freedom.
Plus the Ground Zero mosque and a teen music idol. Just how did Justin Bieber get caught up in the controversy? The answer is ridiculous, which is why we've put it on our RidicuList.
KAYE: Coming up, should you believe everything you read on the Internet? Only if you want to end up on our RidicuList. First, Gary Tuchman is back with a "360 News Bulletin" -- Gary.
TUCHMAN: Randi, chilling video tonight of London's Crossbow Cannibal. Security video obtained from "The Daily Mirror," serial killer Stephen Griffiths is seen carrying a crossbow just outside of his apartment moments after murdering one of his victims. Earlier this year, Griffiths was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of three women.
From Florida, this shocking video: a homeless man beaten, his alleged attacker the son of a local police lieutenant. An arrest warrant for Justin Collison, taped punching a man back on December 4, has just been issued. The state's attorney office is now investigating why charges were not filed earlier.
Two sisters in Mississippi jailed for 16 years will soon be freed on one condition. Governor Haley Barbour agreed to suspend their sentences if Gladys Scott donated a kidney to her sister Janie Scott, now on dialysis. The Scotts were convicted of a 1993 armed robbery that netted 11 bucks.
And congratulations to Queen Elizabeth, today welcoming her first great-grandchild into the royal family. The daughter of her grandson, Peter Phillips, the new baby is 12th in line to the throne.
And Randi, are you wondering what baby's -- the royal baby's name is?
KAYE: Of course.
TUCHMAN: I can't tell you, because the royal family has not released the name yet. I will tell you the mother's name is Autumn, so maybe we'll have a cool New Age name for the royal baby.
KAYE: That would be cool. Of course it's a big secret. All those royals.
KAYE: All right. Well, Gary, pay attention to this: time for the RidicuList, of course, brought to you once again by the Internet. If it's on the Internet, it's got to be true, right?
Tonight's edition, more people who got snookered by what they read online. Take a look at this Facebook page from an opponent of the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero. So what's a picture of teen idol Justin Bieber doing right there?
The page was set up by a supporter of construction worker and mosque opponent Andy Sullivan, who said he was banning his two kids from going to Justin Bieber concerts. Now, granted, Justin Bieber is no Milli Vanilli but really? Why the hate?
Well, supposedly, Justin said this in "Tiger Beat" magazine in support of the mosque. Muslims, he said, are quote, "super cool" and Christians "lame-a-rama." Must be true, right? It was on the Internet. Besides, everyone knows Justin Bieber is obsessed with American politics. Right?
Here he is on "Meet the Press."
And here he is giving a lecture at Harvard's Kennedy School.
Pretty weighty stuff. And listen, just listen to these politically-loaded lyrics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTIN BIEBER, SINGER (singing): Baby, baby, oh, like baby, baby, baby. No. Like, baby, baby, baby. Thought you'd always be mine, mine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Look, he's a 16-year-old teen idol from Canada. "Tiger Beat" says they've never asked Justin Bieber about Ground Zero or Islam, so where do people get this stuff? Probably from this Web site, CelebJihad.com. Their headline? "Justin Bieber Supports Construction of Ground Zero Mosque."
They say he told "Tiger Beat," "I was like seven when September 11 went down, and frankly, I'm surprised people are still going on about it. Move on already."
Then they say he added, "Everyone needs to just chillax and dance." "Chillax." Is that really a word?
Sounding like a parody yet? Well, here's your first clue. Celeb Jihad bills itself as the only celebrity gossip site run by Islamic extremists. And in case you're still not in on the joke, well, there's a disclaimer: "CelebJihad.com is a satirical Web site."
Still, Google "Justin Bieber" and "Ground Zero mosque," and you get almost 1.5 million hits. And if you had a Google alert set up for "Ground Zero mosque" when the CelebJihad posted it, you might have seen the bogus quotes and gotten outraged.
We get it: the joke's not funny. The subject's not funny. The story's not true, but it spreads like wildfire and people believe it.
Late tonight, Justin Bieber's picture was taken off the Facebook page, and we got this statement from Andy Sullivan: "I sincerely apologize for the inaccurate information that has been put out there by one of the 50,000 9/11 Hard Hat Pledges. The volunteer's heart was in the right place, but the facts were not correct."
He goes on to say that he did not personally check the quote, which certainly didn't help. But in the end, makes him a lot like all of us for being taken in by a powerful story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ORSON WELLS, ACTOR/DIRECTOR: The bells you hear are ringing, wanting people to evacuate the city as Martians approach. No more defenses. Our army is wiped out. Artillery, Air Force, everything, wiped out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Radio then or Internet now, believe everything that's on it, and you'll land yourself a spot on the RidicuList.
A lot more ahead at the top of the hour, starting with Christine O'Donnell firing back against allegations she used campaign cash for personal expenses. Do her denials fit the facts?